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April 26, 2001


Communications Department

Roe v. Wade Threatened by Passage of "Unborn Victims of Violence Act" (S. 480/H.R. 503)

Legislation is an Attack on a Woman's Right to Choose a Safe and Legal Abortion and Would Grant Personhood to a Zygote, Blastocyst, Embryo or Fetus

Washington, DC - The House of Representatives today passed legislation that would set a legal precedent that could be used to overturn Roe v. Wade. H.R. 503 would establish in law that an "unborn child" is an individual separate from a woman, and elevate its status above that of a woman. The bill makes no distinction between a fetus that is nine months old, an embryo that is six weeks old, a blastocyst that is six days old and has yet to implant in the uterus, and a zygote that is five hours old and has yet to split into more than two cells. Vicki Saporta, Executive Director of the National Abortion Federation (NAF) denounced the vote stating, "By granting full personhood to a fetus, embryo, blastocyst and zygote, the bill threatens to set the stage for overturning Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that made abortion legal." Saporta continued, "The supporters of this bill have consistently supported legislation that would restrict a woman's right to choose. If they are genuinely concerned with protecting women, they would recognize that illegal abortion poses a real and serious threat to women's lives and health."

Under the guise of protecting women, the sponsors of the bill would create separate penalties - aside from those assessed for the actual assault on the woman - for anyone who causes injury or death to an "unborn child" while committing a federal crime. "This bill will not protect women from violence," said Saporta. "In fact, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence has strongly opposed the bill specifically because it does nothing to help women who are victims of violence. Supporters of the bill should focus their energy on passing legislation that would truly protect pregnant women from violence, if that is their real concern."

NAF supports the Violence Against Women Act which protects women from violence without undermining their right to a safe and legal abortion. "The 'Unborn Victims of Violence Act' threatens to return women to a time before Roe v. Wade when abortion was illegal and unsafe. The passage of this bill does exactly the opposite of what supporters claim are their intentions - it will serve only to jeopardize the health and safety of women."


The National Abortion Federation is the professional association of abortion providers in the U.S. and Canada dedicated to ensuring that abortion remains safe, legal and accessible.

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